We were on a road trip to visit family when I had one of my biggest dad fails. My wife was pregnant with our second child and my oldest son was in his car seat behind me. With the stress of driving, a crying kid, and an uncomfortable wife in the passenger seat, I wanted to get to our destination quickly. The cruise control was engaged when a big blue truck came flying by us in the left lane. He slammed on his breaks and swerved in front of us. I put out my arm out to protect my wife and we were inches from crashing into this guy. He sped up and I’m not proud of what I did next.
I punched the gas and got up next to him, yelling as my temper flared. I said many things I do not want to repeat. After he yelled back at me and took a quick exit, I slowed down with my son screaming in the back. My wife, trembling in fear, looked at me with disbelief. I had dropped the ball. It was a long ride after I pulled this stunt. Have you ever dropped the ball as a dad? Here are 5 typical dad fails and how we can fix them.
1. Reacting Instead of RespondingSaying ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human.
On our road trip, I reacted to the truck that cut us off. I should have responded. Instead of checking on my pregnant wife who was jolted by the seatbelt that could have hurt her and the baby, I reacted out of anger and ignored what I valued most. My reaction was uncalled for and didn’t help the situation. I have learned that when I do react, I must eat my pride and simply apologize. Saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. Your kids need to see what it looks like when you mess up and how to respond appropriately.
2. Not Encouraging Your Kids Beyond Performance
On my freshman football team, I was the long snapper. I blew a game by snapping the ball over the punter’s head, allowing the other team to score and ultimately win. Afterward, I cried in my dad’s truck—not because of the loss but because I knew he was disappointed in me. I want my kids to know that there is nothing they could do to cause me to love them less. My love is not conditioned on how well they perform, because God’s love is not conditioned on how well I perform. One of the dad fails most damaging to our kids is teaching them that they need to earn our love. We must be diligent to find ways to encourage our kids beyond their performance. What is something you can say to your kids today to encourage them that has nothing to do with performing?
3. Not Blessing Your Kids With Our Attention
Have you ever heard these words from your child? “Daddy, watch me!” It is heartbreaking, if I am honest, to consider how many times my kids have said this and I was too busy in the garage or looking down at my phone. When a dad fails to acknowledge his kids, he misses the opportunity to bless them by giving them his eyes—his attention. How many teachable moments do we miss because we’re not watching? As dads, our role is to teach our kids about life. They want our approval and they want our help and some of the best ways we can instruct them is by showing up. Your presence is just as powerful as your wisdom.
4. Not Sticking Up For Your Wife
How do you respond when your kids are talking back to your wife? How often do we talk about our wives in a negative way in front of our kids? A phrase I frequently find myself saying to my kids is, “Do not talk to my wife that way.” This has helped my kids understand that she is my wife before she is their mother. I am not going to let anyone on the planet talk to my wife with disrespect and that includes my children. One of the best things you can do for your kids is to love your wife well. Set an example of how to treat a woman. This is even true when your wife is not around. Honor her when she is in the room and when she isn’t.
5. Not Living Out Your Faith
A friend recently lost his job and told me he wasn’t going to tell his teenage boys. He didn’t want them to worry. I challenged him. “What if instead of hiding it from them, you lived out your faith and dependence on Jesus through this, let them pray for a job, and let them feel a little bit of the pressure?” He agreed not to keep it a secret and a month later, he found an incredible job. He was able to show his kids, through faith, that God was there and had provided for their family. Our kids need to see our faith every day, not just in the car ride to and from church.
Sound off: What do you do to keep from making these mistakes?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s the best thing to do when you do something wrong?”